Reader Questions: Choosing Carseats for a US Roadtrip

This is a reader question from Kristen, a mom from Australia who is planning a road trip through the United States.

I am travelling from Australia to the US with 2 small children - was planning on bringing carseats from here as we will be in US for few months, would those car seats meet US standards? Otherwise how do I find out about renting car seats in Indianapolis. Thanks

Thanks for your question!

You should contact the car seat manufacturer to find out whether your specific seats are approved for use in the US. That said, I've never heard of a police officer taking the time to inspect a car seat to make sure it was US approved, so if I were in your shoes, that wouldn't be my first source of concern.

More important (and unfortunately more time consuming) is making sure that your children will be restrained properly according the laws of each state you will be visiting. Some states are more restrictive than others, and it is probably easiest to follow the rules of the most restrictive state throughout your trip. For example, in Washington State (among the most restrictive states in the US) children must use a child restraint until they are 8 years old and cannot use a booster until they are 4. In contrast, in California, a child over 40 pounds may ride in the rear seat with only a lap belt and may move from a toddler seat to a booster seat whenever the manufacturer instructions state that they are old enough.

If you do find out that you need new car seats, your trip is long enough that it would be cheaper to buy an inexpensive seat than to rent seats (rentals are usually $5 to $10 per day). You could head directly to a Toys R Us or Target store near the airport, or order seats online from a company like Amazon to be delivered to your first hotel room.

Good luck!

Related Links
Danger For Rent: Rental Agency Puts Infant at Risk With Unsafe Car Seats

 Subscribe to our feed

Subscribe by email:


  1. Auto Europe on March 19, 2009 at 6:36 a.m.

    If you are renting a car then your car hire provider should help answer your questions too. Here at Auto Europe UK we also advise people to ensure the vehicle they choose is big enough for the child seats required. This is because not all 5-seater cars can actually fit 3 large child seats across the back.

  2. Enjoying Travel With Kids on March 28, 2009 at 10:18 p.m.

    When we travelled to the UK it was much cheaper for us to buy a carseat than to hire one. 20 pounds to buy, as opposed to 65 pounds to hire.

    We just found the closest baby goods shop to Heathrow (at the time it was in Slough), browsed their seats online and chose what we wanted. We did enquire whether we could purchase it ahead of time and have it delivered to us somewhere, but they were not keen on doing that. So on arrival, we went straight there and purchased the car seat.

    Buying one worked best for us on that trip, but on other trips we have taken our own.

    You can read more about our car seat experiences at: